Popularly known as El'arafa, the City of the Dead moves away from the sepulchral silence characteristic of other cemeteries. There, what would begin centuries ago with the people who worked taking care of the tombs of the nobles, would not stop growing until it became another of Cairo's neighbourhoods, a space in which life and death embrace.
Some of the inhabitants of the City of the Dead are proud to have the opportunity to share accommodation with the graves of their relatives.
What to see in the City of the Dead
The City of the Dead in Cairo is an unusual place where the living and the dead coexist. The extensive neighbourhood is about 7 square kilometres in size which the houses are made up of small rooms with sand courtyards in which ancient tombs are spread.
Without electricity and without running water, some of the makeshift houses located in sumptuous pantheons have tombs inside the rooms. Sometimes it is the ancestors of the tenants, but, in general, the coexistence is carried out with strangers.
In the midst of the chaotic panorama covered by hostility and the relative coldness of the endless avenues, it is surprising to find cafes and shops that offer all kinds of services.
Like other cemeteries, the City of the Dead is full of art, and around the area you'll find buildings that are home to important characters from throughout Egyptian history as is the case of the imposing mausoleum of the Mohammed Ali family, or the Sultan Sayf al-Din Inal Mosque.
An essential visit
The City of the Dead is one of the most surprising places in Cairo and, although it is sometimes difficult to believe what you are seeing, it is a perfect visit to understand the contrasts of Cairo and fall in love with its peculiar character.
How to get to the City of the Dead
The City of the Dead is located just 5 kilometres from downtown Cairo, making it a perfect half-day visit. Among the different ways to get to the City of the Dead, the only viable option is to take an excursion. Although the area's reputation for poverty is perhaps undeserved thanks to historical connotations of the area, it's still best to visit with a guide.
Following the link below, you can see all the information and book the tour of the Coptic neighbourhood which includes a visit to the City of the Dead: